Four Miniatures for Woodwind Trio (1983) was written during a year of study at Eastman School of Music. These short pieces are full of moments that reflect the styles of composers who have had the most influence on me—Stravinsky, Hindemith, and Copland—as well a certain penchant for French music. The first movement uses highly concentrated, acerbic little melodies, and plays with them rhythmically, constantly shifting and often compressing the sense of downbeat, in ways very reminiscent of Stravinsky. Some of the harmonic shifts bring to mind Hindemith. The second movement has the spaciousness and wistful lyricism of much of Copland’s music, while the third movement has a bit of the light grace of French music. The last movement returns again to the sharp-edged melodic and rhythmic style of Stravinsky, and the sometimes dark-hued harmonicism of Hindemith. — Clyde Thompson
Brush Strokes (2014) is a musical depiction of specific works of art. Each movement tells the story of an artist and his painting technique.
Monet depicts the constant movement of water in many of Claude Monet’s paintings. In one part of a stream the water may be calm, while further down the water may rage. Running water is ever changing, much like the swift brush strokes of Claude Monet. He strove to capture the subject before the light changed. When the light changed, Monet started painting on a new canvas. I depicted Monet’s swift painting and the constant changing of light with frequently shifting chord progressions.
Seurat is a musical representation of pointillist works by Georges Seurat. This movement is primarily inspired by Seurat’s paintings A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and The Circus. The music depicts the pointillist aspects of this artwork by frequently shifting the instrumentation and bouncing the melody from one player to another, and also by the pointed and light attack of every note.
Van Gogh depicts one of his best-known paintings, Starry Night. Starry Night is filled with curves and rhythm, and the cypress tree in the front exudes a dark loneliness. The movement Van Gogh moves with a slow, rhythmic pulse and a curving melody contour. The overall darkness of the movement depicts the loneliness of the cypress tree, and of Van Gogh.
Pollock is a musical representation of the works of Jackson Pollock that used the “drip” technique. Paintings such as One were created by pouring or dripping paint onto a flat canvas with hardened brushes, sticks, or syringes. His process was called action painting. The movement Pollock is fast and full of energy, with chromatic and scalar flourishes depicting the paint being dripped, poured, and flung onto the canvas. — Alyssa Morris
Three Rondos for Wind Trio: I composed my THREE RONDOS in 1966 at the age of 20 as a student at the famed Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary. The work was premiered in that same year by my fellow students. I “explored” in that time the chamber music of Jean Francaix. It influenced also my THREE RONDOS for flute, oboe, and bassoon as well as my woodwind quintet, my suite for clarinet and piano, and my suite for oboe and piano. Even today I am very fond of French impressionism and jazz, especially Oscar Peterson. — Zsolt Gárdonyi
The Blind Men and the Elephant (2014): We all harbor a little blind philosopher inside. The Blind Men and the Elephant is an ancient parable taught as a warning for people that promote absolute truth or exclusive subjective claims. The simple reason is that our life experiences or perception can lead to limited access and overreaching misinterpretations of a bigger picture. In turn, each creates his or her own version of reality from that limited experience and perspective. The picture itself could be love, religion, art, or work. How can a person with a limited touch of truth turn that into the one and only version of reality? — Robbie McCarthy
Impromptu (1975/1998) is a short, bright, up-tempo piece commissioned in 1975 by KTCA Public Television (Minnesota), to be used as introduction music for a community news and information show. In conversations about what kind of music should reflect the personality of the half-hour show, “optimism,” “serious lightness,” and “sense of positive outcome” were all given to me as goals for the sound of the music—at the time a strange request for a serious, post-modern, 24-year-old newly minted composer! I composed Impromptu for flute, oboe (or clarinet), and bassoon. It’s approximately one and a half minutes long, in ABA form, with mildly mixed meters (5/8, 3/8 and 6/8) set on a lively constant eighth note pulse. — Libby Larsen
Trio de la fiesta mayor (1953). A Fiesta Mayor is an annual festival honoring the patron saint of each Spanish village. The first two movements are a typical Latin-American interplay between 6/8 and 3/4 meter. The Tamboril is highly ornamented, while the Procesión has a lovely, quiet, modal quality. The Sonata finale is based on the D Lydian mode, giving it a neat Latin flavor and bringing the work to a convincing close. — Ronald Klimko, The Double Reed
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